Ben Bernanke's Greatest Challenge
Fed Chairman Discusses Recession, Financial Rescues And Recovery In Wide-Ranging 60 Minutes Interview
(CBS) Aside from the president he's the most powerful man working to save the economy, but you have never seen
an interview with Ben Bernanke.
Bernanke is the chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, better known as the Fed. The
words of any Fed chairman cause fortunes to rise and fall and so, by tradition, chairmen of the Fed do not do
interviews - that is until now.
The Federal Reserve controls the economy by setting interest rates. But after the crash of 2008, Bernanke invoked
emergency powers, and with unprecedented aggressiveness has thrown a trillion dollars at the crisis.
Ben Bernanke may be the most important Fed chairman in history. The question is, can he help lead America out of
this deep recession and when?
"Mr. Chairman, I'm gonna start with a question that everyone wants me to ask: when does this end?" 60 Minutes
correspondent Scott Pelley asked Bernanke.
"It depends a lot on the financial system," he replied. "The lesson of history is that you do not get a sustained
economic recovery as long as the financial system is in crisis. We've seen some progress in the financial markets,
absolutely. But until we get that stabilized and working normally, we're not gonna see recovery. But we do have a
plan. We're working on it. And I do think that we will get it stabilized, and we'll see the recession coming to an end
probably this year. We'll see recovery beginning next year. And it will pick up steam over time."
Asked if he thinks the recession is going to end this year, Bernanke said, "In the sense that this decline will begin to
moderate and we'll begin to see leveling off. We won't be back to full employment. But we will see, I hope, the end
of these declines that have been so strong in a last couple of quarters."
"But you wouldn't say at this point that we're out of the woods?" Pelley asked.
"No," Bernanke replied. "I think the key issue is the banking system and the financial system."
"Unemployment, as we sit here, is about 8.1 percent. I wonder, do you expect double digit unemployment?" Pelley
"Well, it's hard to forecast exactly where we're going. Unemployment is rising. Job losses are still very severe. And
no doubt, the unemployment rate's gonna go higher than it is. But I think, again, that if we do succeed in stabilizing
the financial system, that we'll begin to see a slower pace of decline, and eventually, a stabilization that will set the